Learning to Smile
A quick note: This was a story I wrote during a hard time in my life. It was originally written in one document at 2,633 words and I am going to try and break it up into smaller, manageable chunks. I apologize if it ends at random points, but you won’t have to wait long. I’ll post these 4 or 5 parts quickly.
Also: WARNING: Suicidal themes and drug use.
Dim, yellow light flickers over the brown walls, saturated from broken pipes leaking within them. Mold and mildew fill the room with the stench of decay, the thin layer of water beneath the linoleum floor rotting away the wood. The floor beneath his feet squishes with uncertain stability with every alteration of pressure. From one corner of the stained bathtub, a line of ants winds its way across the peeling floor to the trash bin bursting with used tissues and discarded toiletries. Between his feet, a small puddle of crimson takes formation, fed by the droplets of blood running down the fingertips of his left hand. His right hand holds the thin blade to his wrist, just deep enough to slice the flesh and bleed. His hand trembles, pressing the blade further and drawing it down. He stops before hitting the artery.
“Please, God,” his voice shakes. He sniffles and his eye clench shut. Tears form between his lashes, accumulating into droplets upon his cheeks.
“Please, God,” he repeats quietly. “Give me a reason. Give me a reason not to.”
His mind races to find a connection; an attachment to keep him alive, any excuse to live. His friends cross his mind, one after the other; a homely group of individuals who either buy or supply all forms of narcotics they can acquire. Their biggest concern will most likely be the mess he leaves in their bathroom. What few possessions he owns will be divided amongst them before his body is disposed of. People around here often disappear without a trace. They know how, and none of the authorities will bother with the area. They won’t even be contacted; the contents of the pockets of anyone he knows here are enough for several years in prison, and their closets are federal cases.
Images of his mother dance across the back of his eyelids; the call, the grief, the tears, the screams, the depression, all repeated at the funeral. Her life will fall apart until she can forget enough to fall back into normality. But she will probably never know. No one will call her; no one knows her, and no one cares. Her son just vanished, stopped calling, pushed her from his life; likely fell into the abusive habits of the area’s general populous, became another statistic. She’ll be fine, if she doesn’t know, and she’ll never know.
Would anyone at work notice? They will obviously take notice that his tasks are undone and that he has missed multiple days. They will bad-mouth him and someone will have to take up his workload, doing double the work to compensate until they grow to hate him. He will be labeled a no-call-no-show, be replaced, and become the subject of ridicule and conversation for weeks to follow with no one ever knowing what really happened to him.
“Where are you, God?”
A sudden pounding at the door jerks his mind back to the physical realm of existence. He tenses, freezing in place, terrified of the concept of being seen, of being caught in this moment of weakness. The thought of being ridiculed, prodded, teased by the inhabitants; not only for being weak enough to consider this in the first place, but for not having the will and dedication to finish the job.
The blade slips from his fingers, the light metal clinks against the floor, bounces once and comes to rest within the pool between his feet. Seconds pass like minutes as he sits in frozen silence, watching the door. Each knock against the wood visibly buckles the door, threatening to force it off its hinges with each blow and send it flying into the tub.